Nomenclature

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I'm big on accuracy, credit where credit is due, and labels. For example, when Lady Gaga is called a musician, it's an accurate description. Besides singing, she plays piano, and she writes. But it irks me when I hear someone who only sings, referred to as a musician rather than a singer. Same for many of the "boy bands" being called bands, rather than singers, or a vocal group. Maybe they should be called artists, which is correct and doesn't misrepresent what they do, or don't do.

I have nothing against artists who just sing, or who don't write their own material. That would mean throwing out institutions like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tom Jones, and Elvis (at least he played guitar...) I respect anyone who sings well and delivers a good performance. But should singers be called musicians when they don't actually play an instrument? Should a vocal group be called a band, when they don't play anything? Or is their voice their instrument?

Bermuda
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Should a vocal group be called a band, when they don't play anything? Or is their voice their instrument?
Rather than give my personal opinion on the matter, I would recommend taking Vocal lessons for a couple months. Then come back and tell yourself the answer.

Singing backup and harmonies is a pretty useful tool to have in one's pocket.
 

TripleStroke

Senior Member
In order to sing effectively, music lesson should be a must, as they should be able to read and interpret the same amount of information that is essential to any sheet reading musician would deem important. Forget guys like Paul McCartney, he also knew how quarter notes and rests meant. Anyways, because singers have to also rely on the same set of theoretical musical tools to be able to sing properly, they are more or less musicians in my eyes
 

Merlin5

Gold Member
Well technically speaking, and according to wiki,

A musician (or instrumentalist) is a person who plays a musical instrument or is musically talented.[1] Anyone who composes, conducts, or performs music may also be referred to as a musician.[2]

'Musicians can specialize in any musical style, and some musicians play in a variety of different styles. Examples of a musician's possible skills include performing, conducting, singing, composing, arranging, and the orchestration of music.[3]'

I do agree that in many cases there are talentless singers who truly can't be referred to as musicians and are just carried by their backing band.
But there are singers who are skilled music readers and/or highly trained such as the likes of opera singers.
 

opentune

Platinum Member
I do agree that in many cases there are talentless singers who truly can't be referred to as musicians and are just carried by their backing band.
Am wondering of an example of such a talentless singer in a band?
Singing a melody is music. The voice is most definitely an instrument. One is hitting notes that the music requires. One is also changing keys, tempos, volume...etc. All the things you can do with a guitar, bass, sax.....
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
Example of such a talentless singer in a band? And are you implying singing a melody or form is not music?
The voice is most definitely an instrument.
I think he was saying something along the lines of...

Dancing on stage to prerecorded music, where the only live mics are for moments like "Thank you very much!" and "Hello Seattle!", is not musicianship.

I greatly prefer Burlesque and Cabaret to Stripping.
 

81MC

Member
The Voice is undoubtedly one of the oldest, most wide spread, and intrinsically human instruments around.
That said, my definition of a musician encompasses more than playing one instrument. I drum, but I am a far cry from a 'musician'.
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
I think he was saying something along the lines of...

Dancing on stage to prerecorded music, where the only live mics are for moments like "Thank you very much!" and "Hello Seattle!", is not musicianship.

I greatly prefer Burlesque and Cabaret to Stripping.
I disagree, I've re read the original post and it wasn't the mimers being discussed, the OP said "But should singers be called musicians when they don't actually play an instrument?"
I consider myself as a drummer but the other week in the pub we were discussing something about bands and I made the point that I'm uncomfortable "claiming" to be a musician as I don't read or write music or have any kind of formal training or education. My mate jumped down my throat and said that he very much considers me to be a musician as he considers that my contributions and inputs to both the original music we played years ago and the covers we play today are invaluable and not coming from anyone else in the band.

Perhaps unrelated but I've long held the opinion that we don't appreciate how difficult the thing we do is and can undervalue ourselves as a result. Stick the average non drummer behind a kit or ask them to book and run a gig, and you would see that things we see as being second nature are actually really difficult.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
It doesn't bother me when a singer is called a musician. Singing well is a tough job.

I do agree it irks me when a singing group that plays none of their own instruments is called a band.

Also irks me that many DJ's are now considered "musicians" just because they push some buttons to control music created by someone else.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
I would think that anyone performing music to be a musician. Not an instrumentalist if singing is the only method of performing. I am a bit more put off by the term boy band, when they are a chroal group at best. Musicians, under my definition, but no more a band that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or the Vienna Boys Choir.

Lennie has to go. He must have no true friends or they would clue him in.
 

force3005

Silver Member
Hi Bermuda. IMO, I believe a singers voice is a instrument. Just because they don't play a musical instrument does not diminish the fact.
 

sonormapex

Senior Member
This type of question could get you in trouble depending on how you answer it ,and where you emphasise the word "just"

;They,re good for JUST a boy band!,,double edged sword here.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
I know tons of people who play instruments that I don't consider to be musicians. Just because someone changes a light switch, that doesn't make them an electrician either. My point is that some singers are stellar musicians, just with their voice, and some singers well, aren't musicians at all. They are people who sing, but who are lacking a musical understanding.
To me a musician has to have a certain ability...before I will consider them an actual musician. Hey they don't have to be a virtuoso, but yea they need to have the ability to understand...and be able to navigate song form at the very least. If that doesn't come natural, that's a big problem. If you can't follow a song form, you're not a musician in my eyes.
 

Highway Child

Senior Member
I know tons of people who play instruments that I don't consider to be musicians. Just because someone changes a light switch, that doesn't make them an electrician either. My point is that some singers are stellar musicians, just with their voice, and some singers well, aren't musicians at all. They are people who sing, but who are lacking a musical understanding.
To me a musician has to have a certain ability...before I will consider them an actual musician. Hey they don't have to be a virtuoso, but yea they need to have the ability to understand...and be able to navigate song form at the very least. If that doesn't come natural, that's a big problem. If you can't follow a song form, you're not a musician in my eyes.
I think Larry has this right. To me playing an instrument or being able to hold a note vocally does not automatically make a person a musician. It's all about the ears...
 
Top